• Fri. Dec 8th, 2023

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Comparing auto insurance and ownership costs for electric vehicles

Electric vehicles are a tempting alternative to a gas-powered card. But how do the two compare when it comes to your finances?

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The growing awareness around sustainability and rising carbon emissions, coupled with increasing gas prices, has caused many Canadians to switch to electric vehicles (EVs).

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According to Canada Energy Regulator, 86,032 electric vehicles were registered in Canada in 2021, representing a record high of 5.3 per cent of total vehicle registrations. That’s up from 56,165 EVs registered (2.9 per cent of total registrations) in 2019 and 19,696 ( one per cent of total registrations) in 2017.

But there are still some who wonder if the switch is financially worth it. If you are debating whether to switch, it’s a good idea to consider the costs of owning an EV — including EV batteries and your insurance premium — and then decide if the initial purchase sits well with your budget.

A nature-based solution to greenhouse gas emissions

With growing climate consciousness, both governments and residents are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint and switch to climate-friendly alternatives. EVs are one such alternative.

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The 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan outlines initiatives that are underway in Canada to bring down greenhouse gas emissions, as well as new measures that will get the country closer to its emissions reduction target of 40 per cent to 45 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, and net zero emissions by 2050.

To meet this goal, the Canadian government is also encouraging the use of EVs by introducing various initiatives in this space, including investing in EV charging infrastructure as and new incentives to EV buyers. These incentives are offered by both the federal and provincial governments.

EV battery cost versus gasoline

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Besides the cost of buying an EV, a significant topic of discussion is often the cost and life span of EV batteries. Much like the batteries in our smartphones, the batteries in EVs need to be charged and might need replacement after some time. The average lifespan of the battery is believed to be around 15 to 20 years. Replacing an EV battery can cost anywhere from free under warranty and up to $20,000, depending on your vehicle’s warranty, make, and model. It also varies for hybrid vehicles versus fully electric ones.

To draw a comparison, if we assume that a gas-powered car is driven for 15,000 kilometres in a year and its average fuel consumption is 10 kilometres per litre, nearly $2,250 will be spent per year on gas, if gas prices round to $1.5 per litre. At this rate, the cost of fuel would be $33,750 over the course of 15 years — more than the cost of an EV battery.

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While the long-term cost of owning an EV might be a topic of ongoing discussion, both governments and vehicle manufacturers are working on making these vehicles more attractive and financially viable for buyers.

Auto insurance for EVs versus gas vehicles

There are many factors that insurance companies consider while determining the premium, which include your driving record, age, location, and vehicle model, among other things. Companies also consider the cost to replace a vehicle, which is usually higher if the vehicle uses advanced technology — which could be true for some EV models. Some insurance companies also offer green vehicle discounts to owners of electric and hybrid vehicles.

To illustrate how an EV insurance premium can measure up to gas-powered premium, we ran a test quote on the Lowestrates.ca auto insurance quoter for a 35-year-old male with a G licence, living in Toronto with a clean driving record and insuring either a Honda Civic LX, Kia Soul EV Premium, or Nissan Leaf S Plus.

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The quotes revealed that one of the most affordable EVs to insure, the Kia Soul EV Premium, is 30 per cent more affordable to insure than your standard Honda Civic LX gas-powered vehicle. One of the cheapest EVs to purchase, the Nissan Leaf S Plus, is also 20 per cent more affordable to insure than the gas-powered Honda.

The bottom line when it comes to EV costs

Even though you may get a discount for driving an environmentally friendly vehicle, comparing car insurance rates can help you get the best rate for your vehicle and situation. Depending on the EV model you’re interested in, it could end up being less expensive to insure and maintain than a gas vehicle.

LowestRates.ca is a free and independent rate comparison website that allows Canadians to compare rates for various financial products, like auto and home insurance, mortgages, and credit cards. 
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